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US expected to discuss sending more troops to M-E
Washington, June 17 (IANS) US President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to discuss whether to send additional troops to the Middle East after two oil tankers came under attack in the Gulf of Oman last week.
Discussions are expected to be held in the upcoming week by the administration’s national security team, Xinhua news agency quoted CNN as saying in a report on Sunday citing informed sources.
"The discussions are centering on the mission of deterrence and defence against Iranian aggression and what specific forces would be needed to conduct that mission," said the report.
The sources revealed that the deployment of additional Patriot air defence system, fighter jets and ships could contribute to the "deterrence and defence against Iran".
During an interview on Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo restated that Iran was behind the attacks on the two oil tankers on June 13, which Tehran has denied.
Washington is considering a full range of options, including military, to respond to the attacks, said Pompeo.
Earlier on Sunday, Pompeo also suggested that Washington should seek to prevent the ongoing tension with Iran from further escalation.
"President Trump has done everything he can to avoid war. We don’t want war," he said.
Many analysts are worried that unintended incidents and miscalculations between Washington and Tehran might ultimately trigger military conflicts.
On June 13, two oil tankers — Front Altair, owned by shipping company Frontline Ltd. that is controlled by Norwegian-born magnate John Fredriksen, and the Panamanian-flagged Kokuka Courageous — were reportedly hit by unknown attackers in the Gulf of Oman.
The crew of the tankers of 44, including 11 Russian nationals, were transferred to the Iranian port city of Jask.
The attacks came amid Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Iran to help ease tensions between Tehran and Washington.
In May, four commercial vessels reportedly suffered similar sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
The Pentagon last month announced a decision to send to the Middle East 1,500 American troops along with Patriot systems, drones and fighter jets, a move called by Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan a "prudent response to credible threats from Iran".
Iran has vowed to withstand the US "bullying policies".